SCRANTON – It was a win for the ages…and the “pre-ages.”
Pro-life perseverance and patience paid off on June 24, 2022, when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that virtually erased and rendered mute the Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand in America.
Catholics throughout the Diocese of Scranton were quick to note the high court’s reversal on the abortion issue was the answer to a half-century of prayers, coming— “God-incidentally” — on the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the birth date of the late Nellie Gray, foundress of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., and the first to coin the term “pro-life.”
Maryann Lawhon, president of the Hazleton Area Chapter of Pennsylvanians for Human Life (PHL), witnessed firsthand the horrors of legalized abortion in 1977, when as a young nurse working in the obstetrics unit of a West Virginia hospital she stumbled upon an abandoned newborn — completely unaware the Supreme Court’s Roe decision made the atrocity lawful.
After being reprimanded for bringing the revelation to the staff’s attention, and against instruction to “do nothing,” she held the infant, baptized him and declared, “I name you John. I will tell the world what I saw here today. I will be your voice.”
“Promise kept,” Lawhon proudly noted, referring to her “Voice of John” respect life educational apostolate based in Hazleton. “My immediate reaction was of absolute joy, a victory for the child in the womb!”
Lawhon said she shed “tears of joy” during the “surreal moment,” recalling decades of pro-life marches, peaceful protests outside of abortion clinics, prayer chains and carnation sales in defense of the right to life.
“Justice for the 63 million children who have died,” she continued. “A victory for humanity!”
So, mission accomplished?
“No,” Lawhon explained. “God has a plan, so this is a time to listen to the fears and address the concerns of a society which has known a world where abortion has been both justified and normalized.”
Maria Lutz Barna chimed in, “My mother, Mary Farley Pane and Loretta McNellis are dancing in heaven,” referring to Katherine Lutz and the two original founders of the Grassroots Hazleton Chapter.
“Today, the ‘voice of John’ has been heard,” Sugarloaf resident Caroline Cummins said in reaction to the monumental Supreme Court decision.
“No more Roe. God’s will was done on June 24, 2022. Praise the Sacred Heart of Jesus!” Jean Klingerman of Drums exclaimed.